Creating a diversity of habitat will provide for a much greater diversity of wildlife and hence valuable protection and enhancement of biodiversity in urban areas.
It is best to have structural as well as native plant species diversity by creating different ‘layers' of vegetation - ground covers, grasses, vines, small and tall shrubs, and trees.
Before you plant, have a think about the types of plants you would like to grow, imagine the size that they will grow to and area they will need. You may not have space in your garden to grow tall trees, or your neighbour may object to them spoiling their sunlight or view when they reach 20+ m in height - it may be best to grow understorey plant species.
Plant for shelter by planting in clusters rather than isolated native plants throughout your garden. This will provide dense, protective thickets for safe nesting sites and shelter from predators.
Plant for food by planting a variety of native plants to provide nectar, attract insects, or produce fruit - native grasses provide seed as well as attract insects.
Plant local native species - plants that grow naturally in your area are suited to the local conditions and also provide food and shelter for the types of birds, lizards, insects, frogs and other native animals which occur in your area. Native plants can be pruned or shaped and need not look ‘messy'.
A great way to gain a sense of what you could plant and provide is by taking a walk in any remnant bushland park or reserve near where you live. This can be a great way to learn more about the natural plants and animals in your area.
Seek the advice of your local native garden nursery as these often specialise in growing native plants from seeds or cuttings sourced locally.
Understorey vegetation consists of small trees, shrubs, ground covers, grasses, herbs and vines, and is a vital component of a healthy and diverse habitat.
It creates a physical structure and complexity essential for providing habitat for safely moving, foraging, resting, breeding and avoiding predators.
Illustration by Kris Schaffer